By Tata Mbunwe
Outspoken Catholic priest and academic, Fr Ludovic Lado, has cried out against an order from Minister Jacques Fame Ndongo which excludes clergy from being recruited among University lectures and other civil service jobs.
In an open letter to the Minister of Higher Education, Fr. Ludovic said the ban is “ simply discriminatory” and it “violates the right to freedom of worship”.
The Jesuit said he “was shocked” at the decree “for several reasons,” having been trained under an Anglo-Saxon education system where such a practice is absent.
According to him, the Minister’s “regulation is simply discriminatory and violates the state’s circular character enrolled in the Constitution of Cameroon,” adding that the clergy are being permitted to offer prayers at public occasions.
“It also violates the right to freedom of religion, as becoming ‘Minister of Worship’ is a religious practice that can not be implied in the organization of the public service,” he said.
On January 18 this year, Higher Education Minister, Jaques Fame Ndongo, decreed to the Rector of the University of Yaounde I that members of the clergy should not be recruited among the ongoing recruitment of University lecturers.
*Law excludes clergy from public service*
The 1994 law which governs the public service also excludes the clergy from becoming civil servants, although no explanation is accorded to the section of the law.
Article 14 of the 1994 public service law, which was amended in 2000, states that, “The clergy shall not be eligible for recruitment or retention in a corps instituted pursuant to the provisions of these rules and regulations.”
Article 1(2) of the 2008 amendment of Cameroon’s Constitution also gives the country a secular nature with no religious affiliations.
Nevertheless, clergy from major religious bodies, including the Catholic, Islam, Presbyterian, and Baptist are often invited to pray at some public occasions.
“… I wonder what Cameroon would have lost if such a provision had excluded from the University Fr. Prices physician Crougneau; Fr Historian Engelbert Mveng; the Sociological Zone-Jerane; Etha Philophone Megrag; Fr Patchite Patchiques Philippe Tsala… Cameroon would have lost, much lost.”
*An academic and a firm critic*
Fr Ludovic Lado is himself an academic, having retained a Doctorate degree in social and cultural anthropology from the University of Oxford.
The Jesuit, described by Catholic News Agency as outspoken and controversial, was the vice-dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences and Management at the Catholic University of Central Africa, in Yaoundé in 2007, where he has been firmly criticizing President Paul Biya’s government.
He was arrested in October 2020 on suspicion of collaborating with the opposition Cameroon Renaissance Movement party, when he decided to undertake a pilgrimage that would see him trekking from Douala to Yaounde, a 250-kilometer journey.
He told the press the religious exercise was aimed at praying for peace and reconciliation in Cameroon, and it had no connections with a recent general protest organized by the CRM party demanding for President Biya’s resignation and electoral reforms and an end to the conflict in the crisis-hit Northwest and Southwest regions.
Mimi Mefo Info